Sunday, December 3, 2023

We Spent $10k on Groceries Final 12 months: Right here’s What We Ate

Actually nobody is happier to eat a cupcake than Littlewoods

In 2022, my household of 4 spent $10,209.68 on groceries. That averages out to $850.81 per 30 days, which is $212.70 per particular person. We’re two adults (ages 39 and almost-39) and two children (ages 7 and 5). At present I carry you an exposé, a deep dive into what we eat, the place we purchase it, how we put together it and the way a lot we spend on it. Ever questioned what I eat? Marvel no extra!!!

Do You Truly Know What You Spend on Meals?

I stroll round with an concept in my thoughts about what we eat and the way a lot we spend on it, however I needed to interrogate that assumption. Did I really know what we spent final 12 months? And the way a lot that was per particular person? NOPE I didn’t. Regardless of rigorously monitoring our spending with Private Capital every month–and sharing it right here on Frugalwoods for the world to evaluate–I haven’t been within the behavior of tallying up our annual bills by class.

Mr. Frugalwoods, higher generally known as Nate, at a marriage we went to this fall

I do know what we spend in a 12 months, however I hadn’t carried out the granular breakdown. And what could possibly be extra illuminating, extra tantalizing than understanding what we spent on FOOD?! It’s the frugal hallmark, it’s the encapsulation of the cliche “you might be what you eat,” coupled with my private favourite cliche “the way you spend your cash dictates the kind of life you’ll lead.”

Groceries and menu planning are essentially the most generally mentioned subjects amongst Frugalwoods readers.

I do know this as a result of they arrive up in:

It’s omnipresent as a result of we should eat.

Completely happy little eaters!

Groceries are the prime instance of a “Reduceable” expense. When somebody’s spending, I prefer to categorize all the pieces as both Mounted, Reduceable or Discretionary:

  • Mounted bills are belongings you can not change. Examples: your mortgage and debt funds.
  • Reduceable bills are essential for human survival, however you management how a lot you spend on them. Examples: groceries and gasoline for the automobiles.
  • Discretionary bills are issues that may be eradicated completely. Examples: journey, haircuts, consuming out.

The Venn Diagram of Frugal and Wholesome

As you’ll notice, I shouldn’t have the most affordable, most naked bones meals funds. Slightly, I attempt to hit the intersection of frugal, wholesome and scrumptious. I can’t put a worth on my well being–or my husband’s or youngsters’s well being–so I do certainly spend extra on meals we view as wholesome.

Q: Liz, do you assume you’re a nutritionist?

A: No, I don’t. I do know our weight loss program is imperfect, however it works for us. 

As you’ll be able to see within the beneath Venn Diagram (which I 100% made up… ), the aim for me is to hit the crossover level the place I really feel like we’re getting “wholesome” meals–the kales of the world–however avoiding the most costly methods to ship these kales into our lives.

Right here’s an instance: at our warehouse retailer BJ’s (akin to Costco or Sam’s Membership), I purchase 1 lb of ORGANIC generic tremendous greens (kale, spinach, and so forth) for $4.99. FOUR DOLLARS & NINETY-NINE CENTS (this might be a lot simpler if they only charged $5…). Have been I to buy this at Complete Meals or our native Coop, I’d spend double that for a smaller container. That is what I’m speaking about after I warning in opposition to costly grocery shops!

Our Grocery Purchasing Listing by Retailer

A lone crimson onion, simply making an attempt to make it on the earth

I initially wrote out this checklist–and meal plan–on the request of considered one of my non-public monetary session purchasers. She needed to see what we eat and purchase and so, I attempted my greatest to jot down down all the pieces we eat and the place we purchase it.

We store roughly twice a month and don’t purchase all of these things every time. Slightly, that is the whole overview of all the pieces we purchase and our bi-weekly lists change as wanted. Plus, this doesn’t account for specialty meals, akin to at Christmas and for birthdays. The associated fee spreadsheet (beneath) does embrace these meals, however I didn’t put the substances right here since they’re rare and sporadic.

Q: Liz, are you conscious there’s plenty of privilege in having the money and time to purchase bulk, uncooked substances and cook dinner them from scratch?

A: Completely, which is why I contextualize this as what I do and what works for my household. I can not fight systemic financial disparities, a lot as I want to.

Okay, right here’s our checklist divided by supply:


Bought from the Co-op (ordered from their bulk division roughly as soon as 1 / 4, see spreadsheet for exact dates):

  • Natural Rolled Oats, 25lb bag (what we eat for breakfast)
  • Natural White Complete Wheat Flour, 50lb bag (what we bake our bread with)
  • Dried Garbanzo Beans, 25lb bag (what we make hummus with)

Bought from our Farmer Neighbors (see spreadsheet for dates and portions):

  • Complete free-range chickens (we purchased 14 in 2022)
  • Grass-fed, free-range floor beef (we purchased 8 lbs in 2022)
  • Maple syrup (once we run out of syrup we’ve made)

Bought from Hannaford’s (normal grocery retailer):

Our maple syrup: One jar from every boiling & canning session

  • Garlic (recent)
  • Ginger (recent)
  • Onions (yellow and crimson)
  • Grapes
  • Pink cabbage
  • Inexperienced onions
  • Tofu
  • Complete wheat pasta
  • Tea
  • Baking provides as wanted (sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and so forth)
  • Butter

Bought from our native Asian Market:

  • Fish sauce
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Mirin
  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Pink miso
  • Gochujang

Bought from BJ’s (a warehouse retailer just like Costco and Sam’s Membership):

  • Natural salad greens
  • Lemons
  • Limes

    Yep. I took a photograph of my salad greens. Only for you

  • Natural apples
  • Bananas
  • Clementines
  • Candy potatoes
  • Natural carrots (entire)
  • Cucumbers
  • Snap peas
  • Bell peppers
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Goat cheese 
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • ½ n ½ 
  • Some kitchen helpers a number of years again. I suppose Littlewoods was excited?

    Greek yogurt (plain)

  • Hen thighs (as wanted to complement the native entire chickens we purchase)
  • Frozen berries + kale combine
  • Pizza cheese
  • Pepperonis (for pizza)
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Brown rice
  • Natural quinoa
  • Dried cranberries
  • Natural raisins
  • Some type of cracker/chip for the youngsters (cauliflower sticks, veggie sticks, goldfish, and so forth)
  • Natural peanut butter
  • Natural olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Spices
  • Popcorn kernels (in bulk)
  • Sizzling cocoa
  • Espresso
  • Throughout ski season solely: granola/protein bars for the youngsters to have of their coat pockets whereas on the slopes

Meals We Develop and Protect on our Homestead:

My home made applesauce.

We’ve made different stuff from our gardens over time–together with kimchi, dried tomatoes, and currant cordial–however the above is the stuff we constantly eat and make. The kimchi, dried tomatoes and currant cordial all tasted kinda bizarre… so, stay and be taught!

I additionally wish to be crystal clear that each one of this might be cheaper if I purchased it from a retailer.

Chickens need to be fed and cared for, backyard seeds need to be bought and planted and maintained, and canning is an actual ache. I do this stuff as a result of I get pleasure from them, actually not as a result of they get monetary savings. Probably this might save me cash over the VERY long run. Like if I’m nonetheless utilizing the identical canning jars and hen coop in 40 years perhaps I’ll break even. Not a joke, of us, not a joke. So don’t fret in case you don’t have the time or area to backyard or hen–you’re not lacking out on some main money-saving cabal.

Our Meal Plan

Littlewoods peeling and coring apples for applesauce

And right here’s how we eat these meals. We’re type of boring in that we’ve a fairly normal rotation of meals. However we prefer it that approach.

I’m tired of spending plenty of time on meal planning and cooking; thus, I’m very content material with a easy rotation.

I’d fairly have extra time and fewer selection, which works for me, however won’t be just right for you! The important thing with meals–and all issues–is to determine what works for you and what you’ll be capable of keep on with.


  • Natural rolled oats with cinnamon and a banana
    • This is similar for all 4 of us each single day
  • Seasonally, we embrace berries from our yard

Lunch (Liz):

Lunch (Nate):

  • Cheese on toast (from our home made bread) and an apple
  • He’s additionally a boring one that eats the identical factor day by day.

Grownup snacks choices:

  • Fruit, veggies, smoothies with plain Greek yogurt & frozen berries + kale from BJ’s, almonds, home made hummus (utilizing the majority garbanzo beans from the Coop), cheese.

Youngsters’ meals packed for varsity:

  • In case you’re questioning, Littlewoods 100% dropped this egg onto the ground

    Snack instance: carrot sticks, apple slices, goldfish crackers/veggie straws/cauliflower chips (purchased in bulk packages from BJ’s)

  • Lunch instance: PB&J (home made bread, home made currant jam, natural PB from BJ’s), grapes, cucumber slices
  • They don’t get precisely this day by day–it rotates based mostly on what recent fruit and greens are in the home:
    • Once we’ve eaten all of the recent stuff, they get issues like: raisins, dried cranberries, nuts, and so forth. Then, we all know it’s time to go grocery procuring.
    • Typically I pack lunch meat and cheese sandwiches OR peanut butter and banana sandwiches OR leftover dinner gadgets.

After college:

Afternoon Snack:

  • The youngsters get no matter’s leftover of their lunch containers plus–relying on how hungry they’re–carrots, snap peas, cheese, home made apple sauce, almonds, toast, plain Greek yogurt, and so forth.
  • We now have apples, bananas and oranges on the counter that the youngsters are all the time welcome to free-snack on:
    • Consequently, I discover apple cores, orange peels and bits of banana throughout my home.
    • Just lately discovered a desiccated carrot behind our piano… Youngsters are nice.

Youngsters’ Dinner:

  • Littlewoods planting tomatoes!

    Random leftovers:

    • Final evening it was entire wheat pasta, ham (taken out of the freezer from the ham we cooked at Christmas), snap peas and banana slices.
  • Different frequent child dinner gadgets:
    • Salmon burgers (bought frozen from BJ’s)
    • Quinoa or brown rice (served with salt and olive oil)
    • Roasted candy potatoes (or different roasted veggie: carrots, cauliflower, and so forth)
    • Leftover home made pizza
    • No matter recent fruit/veggie is offered

Grownup Dinner: 

    1. Asian-inspired: greens, chopped crimson cabbage, shredded carrots, sesame seeds, inexperienced onions, protein (tofu, hen or salmon) and Asian salad dressing.
      • I’d say that is most likely the yummiest of the three, however it additionally takes the longest to make on account of chopping up all of the substances and making the dressing.
      • Right here’s Nate’s recipe for this dressing:
        • Minced recent ginger, minced recent garlic, lime zest, lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, mirin, toasted sesame oil, crimson miso, and gochujang.
        • Mix substances and mix till clean.
    2. The littlest currant picker

      Cranberry & walnut: greens, cranberries, walnuts, goat cheese, roast hen OR salmon, balsamic vinegar.

      • This one is BY FAR the quickest and best. It takes ~3 minutes to make.
      • Nate will roast/smoke a hen as soon as per week and slice it up. Then, I dump the substances collectively proper earlier than dinner.
      • The dressing for that is simply straight balsamic vinegar, which provides to how fast and simple it’s to make.
    3. Greek-inspired: greens, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, cucumbers, inexperienced onions, white wine & garlic French dressing.
      • We desire this one throughout summer season months.
      • The dressing for that is kinda made-up, by which I imply it’s 100% completely different each time I make it, however mainly… I whisk collectively olive oil, white wine, minced garlic, a drop of maple syrup, salt, pepper and crimson pepper flakes. It will make sense for me to jot down down the portions, however eh, life is simply too quick.

One other typical dinner possibility (for teenagers and adults):

Saturday evening particular dinner choices:

  • Selfmade pizza! Nate makes use of the next recipe to make his crusts:
    • 454 grams water
    • 12 grams sugar
    • 25 grams olive oil
    • 1 tblsp yeast
    • 690 grams flour
    • 1 tblsp salt
  • Tacos!
  • Spaghetti and home made Bolognese sauce!

Weekly Bulk Cooking 

All of our “core” cooking occurs in bulk in order that every day, I’m simply throwing issues collectively.

Nate is answerable for all core cooking, which incorporates getting ready:

  • Carrot thief on the lamb

    Complete chickens

  • Hummus
  • Tofu
  • Salad dressings
  • Bread
  • Selfmade pizza
  • Making jam over the summer season

Every day Minimal Cooking

If I’ve time, I’ll do minimal every day cooking of issues like:

  • Roasted candy potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts

A Be aware On Child Meals

Q: Liz, how do you get your children to eat that stuff?

A: We observe the Ellyn Satter Institute Division of Tasks consuming mannequin.

The ladies at their little “bistro desk” as Kidwoods calls it

When Kidwoods was about two years previous (and Littlewoods was zero years previous), we started to implement The Satter Division of Duty in Feeding protocol. That makes it sound tremendous critical, however it’s an easy, easy framework for feeding children that basically resonated with us, made intuitive sense to our household, and that we proceed doing to today.

Right here’s the rundown of this system, per their web site:

Your [parent] jobs with feeding are to . . .
  • Select and put together the meals.
  • Present common meals and snacks.
  • Make consuming occasions nice.
  • Step-by-step, present your baby by instance the way to behave at household mealtime.
  • Be thoughtful of your baby’s lack of meals expertise with out catering to likes and dislikes.
  • Not let your baby have meals or drinks (aside from water) between meal and snack occasions.
  • Let your baby develop into the physique that’s proper for him.
A part of your feeding job is to belief your baby to . . .
  • Eat.
  • Eat the quantity he wants.
  • Study to eat the meals you get pleasure from.
  • Develop predictably in the way in which that’s proper for him.
  • Study to behave properly at mealtime.

My enthusiastic baking assistants

On account of following this strategy, our youngsters are adventurous, keen eaters. Sure, they completely complain about some meals. Sure, they generally utterly keep away from consuming a selected meals on their plate. However, no, they haven’t starved and no, I don’t deviate from Satter’s methodology. Does this strategy work for each baby? In fact not! Does this strategy work for my children? Sure.

I feel the important thing for us is that we began after they have been very younger and have been 100% constant. I discover this strategy SO MUCH EASIER than catering to particular likes/dislikes/complaints. My children have preferences–which they’re free to voice–and I attempt to take these into consideration when getting ready their meals. However, they don’t dictate what or how our household eats.

How Do I Cope with Child Complaints About Meals?

The much less mentioned, the higher.

Nate and the Thanksgiving turkey!

Right here’s a pattern dialog from final week:

  • Littlewoods (age 5): “I HATE Brussels sprouts! I WILL NOT eat them! UGGGHHHHHH! Ewwwwwwwwww!!!!”
  • Me (age almost-39): “Okay.”

THAT’S IT. No want to have interaction, contradict, drive or provide alternate options. If I drive her to eat them, that’ll construct resentment and probably an unhealthy/weird relationship with meals. If I contradict her and say, “you really liked them the final time you ate them,” I’m simply including gasoline to her preschool rage and he or she’ll see this as an invite to dig in and combat more durable. If I provided another meals, that will train her that when she rudely whines a few meals, she will get rewarded with a unique meals.

Conversely, if I’m completely unbothered and both don’t reply or simply say a breezy, “okay,” it diffuses the state of affairs nearly instantly. She nonetheless didn’t eat the sprouts, however it didn’t create a scene or a wrestle. And for what it’s price, she ate them the subsequent evening as a result of she’d forgotten she hated them, partly as a result of I hadn’t made a problem out of it.

Cookie baking!

If considered one of our youngsters declares they don’t wish to eat ANYTHING on their plate, our response can be, “okay.” In the event that they persist, our response is, “Then it’s essential to not be hungry. If you’re hungry, that’s the meals you’ll be able to select to eat. It’s as much as you whether or not or not you eat it.”

I can not keep in mind a single time within the final seven years of parenting when a toddler didn’t eat not less than a few of their meal. Seems? They’re normally hungry sufficient.

Do I Ever Power My Youngsters to Eat One thing or “Attempt One Chunk”?

Nope. Per the Satter mannequin, it’s as much as my children what and the way a lot they select to eat of the meals I present to them. I’m not of their our bodies and I don’t know the way hungry or full they’re. Most significantly, I need them to develop their very own satiety cues. If I consistently compelled them to eat roughly, they wouldn’t develop the self-regulation that’s so essential to how we nourish our our bodies and luxuriate in meals. 

Littlewoods serving to me make pumpkin crisp for Thanksgiving!

Concerning the “attempt only a chunk” immediate, what do you assume would occur if I’d compelled Littlewoods–in her enraged state–to take a chunk of sprout? She would’ve spit it out and screamed. It wouldn’t matter how scrumptious it was, she needed to show some extent and BE IN CHARGE.

As soon as I spotted that the sort of immediate is about energy–and has nothing to do with vitamin–it grew to become lots simpler for me to disengage and diffuse.

Moreover, our clever pediatrician reminded us early on that youngsters are bodily incapable of ravenous themselves earlier than the age of seven. In different phrases, if a neurotypical child is hungry sufficient, they are going to eat what’s on their plate.

You, the guardian, are answerable for shopping for and getting ready meals. You, the guardian, are liable for figuring out the weight loss program your loved ones will eat. It’s not the position of a kid to demand, threaten or beg for sure meals.

DISCLAIMER: In fact there are a variety of sensory problems, neurodivergent experiences, disabilities, meals allergy symptoms and different points that make this an unsafe, unattainable and even harmful strategy for some youngsters and households. Once more, I’m sharing this as a result of it’s what works for us.

Do I Ever Let my Youngsters Eat Junk?

Canning beans! With bean on particular person

Completely. At birthday events, cook-outs, Valentine’s Day events, and so forth, they’re allowed to eat no matter’s on the menu: chips, sizzling canine, cake, sweet, soda, juice, and so forth. They perceive that these are special day meals and I allow them to self-regulate (to a level) how a lot of this meals they eat.

There was a memorable expertise when Kidwoods was 4 and he or she ate 4 hotdogs at a cookout and really practically threw up… I’ll let you know that taught her A LOT about satiety and self-regulation.

Every day, we let our youngsters have a “deal with of the day,” which may be no matter they need and isn’t linked to a meal. Treats are consumed after college throughout our household “tea time” once we sit down and share about our days.

Out to lunch for Littlewoods’ birthday!

The ladies can choose a bit of sweet from their Halloween/Valentine’s/Easter/Birthday Get together baggage, a home made baked good (if we’ve any), a cup of sizzling cocoa with marshmallows, or one thing like toast with maple syrup on high.

I like having “deal with time” divorced from meals as a result of it obviates the “that you must eat your wholesome meals first” dialog that may encompass after-meal desserts. Once more, I don’t drive my children to “simply take yet another chunk” or “cease consuming” or “do this please.” Having the deal with exist by itself–and never as a “reward” for consuming–appears to work properly for us.

What We Spent in 2022

Alrighty, what you’ve been ready for… right here’s the breakdown of how a lot we spent on meals throughout every month of 2022:

Month Groceries from Grocery Retailer Bulk Meals & Farmer Neighbor-sourced Meals Bulk & Farmer Neighbor-sourced Objects Bought
January $868.73
February $770.08 $172.54 50 lbs of natural oats

50 lbs of natural white entire wheat flour

March $1,006.60
April $899.65 $160.10 50lbs of natural oats

25lbs of dry natural chickpeas

Might $689.02
June $692.08
July $601 $265 8 entire, frozen, free-range chickens (plus maple syrup and a few misc. produce)
August $630.56 $50.00 8lbs of native natural, grass-fed beef
September $636.70 $83.29 50 lbs of natural oats
October $673.97 $8.57 Yeast for bread
November $810.64 $110.12 Thanksgiving turkey + maple syrup
December $939.03 $142.00 6 entire, frozen, free-range chickens
Subtotal Spent Per Class: $9,218.06 $991.62
Whole Spent in 2022: $10,209.68
Common: $850.81 per 30 days $212.70 per particular person per 30 days

Q: Liz, do you notice that lots of people spend lots lower than you on groceries?

A: Sure, I do. As I famous, my aim is to not spend absolutely the naked minimal on meals. Slightly, it’s to hit that central level on the Venn Diagram the place frugal meets wholesome (and scrumptious!).

How To Save Cash On Groceries in 8 Straightforward-Peasy Steps

In closing, right here’s the briefest attainable checklist I may provide you with:

  1. Kidwoods making “dinner” with cucumber and currants

    Store at cheap shops:

    • Eradicate the Complete Meals and fancy Co-ops of the world out of your routine.
  2. Purchase bulk, uncooked substances:
    • At all times purpose for the base-level ingredient.
    • You need bread? Purchase flour. You need carrot sticks? Get entire carrots. You need hummus? Purchase dry garbanzo beans.
  3. Be selective about natural merchandise and find generic natural choices.
  4. Restrict meat and fish consumption.
  5. At all times store from an inventory. Don’t attempt to wing it within the retailer.
    • Be brutally sincere about what, and the way a lot, your loved ones will eat.
    • No one cares what you eat. Do what works for YOU.
  6. Devise a easy rotation of meals which you can simply, repeatedly execute.
  7. Don’t waste meals. Eat it up or freeze it.
  8. Keep away from packaged and closely processed meals (see #2):
    • Whenever you do want packaged meals, get them in bulk, i.e. large baggage of raisins from BJ’s versus small, individually packaged containers.

Create Frugal Meals Habits

Licking the oven… I imply, why not?

All of that is about creating routines and habits. When you’re on this groove, it’ll be straightforward to iterate on. Sure, it’s a barely painful studying curve at first, however when you go frugal, you not often ever return.

Take, for instance, how we bake our personal bread in our yard sale bread machine. Was it a studying curve at first? Clearly sure. Does it now take me 2 minutes to organize? Additionally sure. Will I ever return to purchasing costly entire wheat natural bread from the shop? By no means ever.

Now that I understand how to make natural entire wheat bread at residence in 2 minutes for tremendous low cost, why would I ever revert to my beforehand costly methods? It’s cheaper, more healthy, tastes higher, engages my children in cooking and makes my home odor AMAZING. The trick is to start out these habits, engrain them into your routine after which carry on preserving on.

What are your methods and suggestions for consuming frugal and wholesome?

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